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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Orlando Fringe Festival 2021 reviews: ‘An Adele Horror Story,’ ‘Cupid and Psyche’ and ‘Nathan Mosher Is Injured’

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2021 at 9:50 AM

click to enlarge anadelehorrorstory_450x450.jpeg
An Adele Horror Story
BYOV: entrance of Orlando Museum of Art, $11

We’ve all seen this movie before: a bunch of horny college kids (Danielle Klele, Alex Cummings, Elizabeth Thornton, Bennet Preuss, Tivonah Andrade, Alex Cumming) head out into the woods for a weekend of whoopie, and end up getting pursued through the woods by a murderous monster. But this time, the baddie isn’t a masked mutant, but British megastar Adele (Megan Lauren Williams), who is actually a pain-sucking demon in disguise.

In this campground of carnage, no one can hear you scream, but they may hear you laugh — or at least groan — at this sloppy Scooby Doo-esque spoof that’s equal parts Evil Dead and Glee. The sporadic musical numbers are lip-synced to director Clay Dixon’s prerecorded musical re-arrangements of Adele’s biggest hits. Playwright-producer Ciara Hannon (who is hilarious as stowaway Sue) packs her script with witty WTF references to Amelia Earhart, Grey’s Anatomy and Chekhov’s gun, while still managing to shoehorn in an after school special–style lesbian coming-out story.

An Adele Horror Story power-sprays a metric ton of slapstick bullshit at the walls, and a surprising amount of it sticks. There’s a solid 50 minutes worth of material here, and Clark Levi (playing “Clark Levi”) is hysterical as a malevolent minion who speaks in song titles. Unfortunately, the 75-minute show feels padded with in-joke asides and ad-libbed filler. If they could eliminate their excess baggage (much like Adele herself did) this campy comedy would really slay. Let’s hope the threatened sequel is more like Evil Dead 2 than Exorcist 2.

Warning: This site-specific BYOV performance takes place after dark on the lawn alongside OMA, so you may want to BYOBSALC (bring your own bug spray and lawn chair).

Cupid and Psyche
Gold Venue (Orlando Museum of Art), $12

It's been 14 years since Cupid and Psyche first hit a bull's-eye with Orlando Fringe audiences, and although the competition has stiffened in the interval, this mythological musical comedy’s overdue revival still holds up remarkably well. Repeat award-winner Sarah Lee Dobbs makes another star turn as Venus, playing the Grecian goddess as a voluptuous pussycat with razor-sharp claws. When her latest feast day falls flat, jealous Venus takes vengeance on mortal princess Psyche (Leigh Green), tasking her son Cupid (Ethan Lolley) with mating her to a monstrous cyclops. But Cupid falls for the maiden, and turns invisible to woo her with the help of his fleet-footed messenger pal, Mercury (John Gracey, very funny in multiple roles, including a surfer-dude Pan).

Dobbs dominates the stage dressed in costumer Kyla Swanberg’s celestial toga, seemingly standing taller than designer James F. Beck’s towering Doric columns. She’s met her match in Green, whose powerful soprano plowed through persistent microphone issues during the press preview. Director Brandon Roberts, a master of physical comedy, proves equally adept at an old-fashioned musical, and even manages to insert some sly social-distancing sight gags.

It’s a shame that the serviceable songs by Jihwan Kim (which sound suspiciously like outtakes from mid-2000s Disney movies) all feel a verse or two too long, and that writer Sean Hartley's lyrics leave all the plot advancement to his book. This could be a nearly perfect show if it only had five or 10 minutes of iffy material trimmed out, but even so Cupid and Psyche is one of the most polished and accessible musical productions in this year’s Festival.

click to enlarge NATHAN MOSHER
  • Nathan Mosher
Nathan Mosher Is Injured: A Show About a Breakup, a Breakdown and a Breakthrough
Blue Venue, $12

How’s this for truth in advertising: Californian comedian Nathan Mosher actually broke his knee while preparing for his first-ever theatrical solo show, and now has to present his stand-up monologue about mental illness while leaning on a cane. Fortunately, that hasn’t hobbled his deviously dark sense of humor, which helps him turn his true tale of bipolar psychosis, suicidal shame spirals and involuntary hospitalizations into fodder for side-splitting one-liners.

Mosher has a knack for lobbing outrageously incendiary punchlines, and then immediately defusing them with an innocent deflection, only to dive right back into the debauchery. His act includes a compelling segment of slam poetry, along with a couple of sappy songs he could stand to cut. But the bulk of his running time is spent sharing stories of personal failure that are both hilarious and poignantly relatable, even if you’ve never been a psych ward frequent flyer. Whether you want to support destigmatizing psychiatric therapy or simply want to hear jokes about coprophilia, Mosher is on his meds, back on the market, and ready to move you.

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